About a year or so ago, I was speaking with a guy in California about God and his general worldview. He communicated to me that he wasn’t necessarily bothered about God or His existence, and that the topic of God isn’t one he needs to think or worry about. Such an attitude is identical with the disposition of many in our generation. For some, the idea of God is only useful for those who can be bothered with theology or philosophy or for older people who have squeezed all they can out of life, or a people defeated in a dire need for some kind of coping mechanism.
Some people generally are just completely apathetic toward the idea of God; it’s unnecessary and redundant. Other people I know believe that they are too young to be fussing about the existence of an all-powerful entity. Life is to be enjoyed in youth, not to be subjected to some kind of divine force. They believe they will come to God when the time is right; when they are done having fun with life.
I believe that both of those attitudes are perhaps, short-sighted. The first attitude – that the idea of God is unnecessary – is short-sited because it assumes that one’s lists of necessities dictates what entity can and cannot exist (for others and especially for themselves). It contains a self-centred view that denies millions of belief systems upon preference of self. Such a view is myopic. To give an illustration of how short-sighted this is, suppose that a person feels fine and feels as though they don’t need a scan for cancer, yet they are covertly of ill health. The cancer does not cease to exist on the basis of their apathy.
Now, the second attitude speaks to the fact that many of us are influenced into a life that ignores God and embraces total freedom and autonomy. Nonetheless, this can only provide part of the bigger picture. To enjoy life as it is now or to ‘seize the day’ can only go so far. Life is not promised to any of us, whether young or old, and if God is in existence, His significance is not reduced or capsized by one’s need to party or live life how they please.
This might play out in another simple analogy. Suppose you and I were standing on train tracks. Every now and then a train would pass by on the other side, but I’d ignore those because I’m enjoying myself. As my back is turned, you see a train coming my way at a high speed. You shout at me to get out of the way before I am hit, but I’d rather ignore reality. I’m sure one could imagine what happens next. Now, this is surely a dramatic example, but you get the point. My choosing to ignore something because of my own selfish preference does not negate the fact that I may surely meet my demise. This might be applicable with the idea of God. None of us will ever ultimately know whether or not God exists, but it is surely something to consider.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking my examples are rather morbid and fearful, and I do agree that there is an element within the illustrations where I appeal to the notion of fear. But there’s a flip side. Imagine that by not considering God, you were actually missing out on true joy and true happiness.
Jesus in Luke 14 tells the story of a man who invites a whole bunch of people to a great banquet. The man sends his servant out when the banquet is ready and prepared for all of the guests so that they might make their way. However, those who were invited gave the servant excuses as to why they couldn’t come. Within the context of this text, declining the invitation is a grave disrespect to the hospitality of the man holding the banquet. However, there is another problem: those invited denied themselves the opportunity for a great banquet! They were not called for a dreary, bleak meal, they were called for a banquet, which I’d imagine might be filled with much food and plenty delicacies so that those invited might enjoy and be filled.
And the same may apply with God.
Though the God of the Bible is painted by cynics with strict and unappealing colours, He calls people throughout all of scripture to come and enjoy Him (Ps. 34:8). Maybe we have enjoyed things in the world thinking that this is all life has to offer, and that has become the centrality of our pleasure. Maybe we’ve ignored God because we think He’ll rain on our parade and rather us be priests and nuns. However, maybe we’ve gotten it wrong. Upon the assumption that God is Creator, He would know what is best for mankind even more than we do. He is the One that instilled receptors for pleasure in our brain chemistry and bodies, therefore, He knows what pleases us most. Maybe, the way of pleasure that we see fit isn’t the best way. Maybe we are again, short-sighted, and our short-sightedness causes us to ignore a God who offers us goodness and pleasure in Him.
To ignore God may be the ‘easy’ choice to take – to not have to worry about a Divine Authority, to live autonomously and ‘freely’, not having to worry about an ideal that you don’t need. But to ignore God may be a decision with dire consequences in that not only is there punishment as described in scripture, but that we miss out on the great banquet that will satisfy our hearts because we think we have food of a better taste.
There is an illusion that because many of us (at least in my audience) are young or millennial, we have time to wait several years before we consider the reality of some sort of afterlife. But the truth is, life is not promised any of us, whether you are young or old. We have no clue what tomorrow holds, let alone our next few hours. Being young does not make us immortal, it does not make us any less susceptible to the trouble of life, and we should consider what God might be saying to us in these times.